Streamwood Park District Playgrounds

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The park district has closed and will be removing the playground at Jaycee Park later this year or in early spring. The playground, installed in 1993, has long surpassed its life expectancy of 20 years.  Replacement parts are no longer available, rubber coatings have deteriorated, and equipment has shifted. Staff is studying options for potential replacement or repurposing of the area as a more passive park area as the park is slowly being overtaken by the adjacent wetlands.

The Vine Park playground also installed in 1993 no longer meets the ASTM and CPSC playground standards and like Jaycee Park, parts are no longer available. The playground will be removed and the area repurposed into native plantings or possibly a Monarch waystation. The park is located in a low area and is routinely wet preventing District vehicles from driving on the grass approaches.  Additionally, there is no parking and the playground is located almost 400 feet from the street.

The Streamwood Park District owns and operates more than 40 playgrounds located in numerous parks throughout park district boundaries. This means that practically every park within the Village of Streamwood has its own playground.

According to the 2020 National Recreation and  Park Association (NRPA) Agency Performance Review and NRPA Park Metrics nationally the median number of residents per playground for a community with a population range of 20,000 to 49,999 residents is 3,157. With Streamwood’s population reported at 39,809 (2019), we can calculate that the number of playgrounds needed to reflect the reported medium numbers is 12.6 playgrounds. Streamwood has more than 3 times the number of playgrounds the median average as reported by the NRPA.

There are benefits of having so many playgrounds within the Village of Streamwood. Approximately 96% of Streamwood residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park as compared to the national average of 55%

Another way to look at the playground count is that the Village of Streamwood is 7.83 square miles, meaning that there is approximately one (1) playground per for every .19575 square miles or one (1) playground for every 125.28 acres.

However; having so many playgrounds also have its downsides, including that some playgrounds are located within blocks of each other. Playgrounds are kind of like cars, as they get older, things tend to break or wear out. The estimated life of a playground according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is 20 years.  Nearly half of Streamwood playgrounds are close to or at 20 years of age, and there are some as old as 30 years.

The Streamwood Park District has nationally Certified Playground Safety Inspectors on staff who regularly inspect the playgrounds for compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM International), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.    Our CPSI’s inspect all of our playgrounds on a yearly basis and create recommendations for repairs and replacements.

While park district staff work diligently to maintain the playgrounds, maintenance and repairs become more difficult as the playgrounds age. Many replacement parts for playgrounds built in the early 1990s are no longer manufactured, play equipment can shift and deteriorate over time, or be vandalized rendering the playground unsafe. When playgrounds can no longer be kept in a safe-use status, the playground will be scheduled for removal and/or replacement.

In recent years the District has completed nine playground replacements including  Friendship, Challenger South, Buchanan, Oak Ridge, Autumn Chase, Grow, Ridge, Surrey Woods, and Commissioners’ Park.

Replacing a playground can be expensive. Removing the old play equipment, and site modifications are real costs. Potentially required permitting related to stormwater adds both time and cost to the project. Commercial play equipment must meet CPSI, ASTM, and ADA standards which makes it more expensive than a homeowners model. Installation costs range 20-30% of equipment cost based on the required Illinois Prevailing Wage. Surfacing material installation varies from $ 4-6 per square foot for engineered wood fiber to $14-$18 per square foot for poured-in-place rubber. Playground replacement projects can range from $50,000 for a small tot lot to $700-800,000 for large multi-age playgrounds.

The Streamwood Park District cannot sustain maintaining and replacing more than 40 playgrounds within its current Capital Replacement budget and will be considering the removal and repurposing of playground areas based on neighborhood need, location, and condition.

For more information please contact Executive Director Jeffrey S. Janda, CPRE, or 630.483.3162.

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